Ar­gyll nurse who sur­vived land­slide ‘lucky to be alive’

The Oban Times - - News - STEVEN RAE srae@oban­times.co.uk

AN AR­GYLL woman has said she is ‘lucky to be alive’ af­ter her car was hit by a land­slide and left hang­ing at the edge of an em­bank­ment on the A83.

Jane Else, 50, from Lochgilp­head, was trav­el­ling along the trunk road at the Rest and Be Thank­ful at around 7.30am on De­cem­ber 30 when more than 200 tonnes of de­bris washed down the hill­side onto the road.

Jane, a men­tal health nurse, suf­fered in­juries in­clud­ing a bro­ken breast bone dur­ing the ter­ri­fy­ing accident, while trav­el­ling to Glas­gow Air­port in her Nis­san Mi­cra.

She said: ‘Ob­vi­ously you’re not ex­pect­ing it. One minute the road was clear, the next all this de­bris was com­ing to­wards me.

‘It looked like kerb stones, huge plinths of con­crete, rub­ble – the metal bar­ri­ers didn’t stand a chance.

‘It’s only a small car and be­cause of the con­di­tions I was only go­ing around 40 or 45 mph. I tried to swerve to avoid it but there was ab­so­lutely no way, it was ter­ri­fy­ing.

‘When I saw the car from a dif­fer­ent an­gle it was really quite scary as it was not the bar­rier stop­ping the car from sliding down the em­bank­ment on the other side, it was a snow pole.

‘If that hadn’t been there I would have slid all the way down the em­bank­ment and could have been killed.’

An­other car was also in­volved in the land­slide. Re­mark­ably, its driver was also not se­ri­ously in­jured.

Mrs Else con­tin­ued: ‘It wasn’t that long un­til other peo­ple ar­rived on the scene. I heard one of the peo­ple say­ing, ‘Oh my God, there’s a woman in that car, get her out’.

‘If you look at the pic­ture of the accident scene, it looks like my­self and the other car were in­volved in a head- on col­li­sion, but we were ac­tu­ally trav­el­ling in the same di­rec­tion. I came to a stop and it was prob­a­bly only sec­onds, but it felt like for­ever.

‘I’ve got ex­ten­sive bruis­ing from the seat­belt and a frac­tured ster­num. But I’m very, very lucky to be alive and to have walked away from the car.’

Mrs Else was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hos­pi­tal in Pais­ley and re­leased on Hog­manay. She is now re­cov­er­ing at home.

The Rest and Be Thank­ful area is no­to­ri­ous for land­slides, with a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent oc­cur­ring on De­cem­ber 5. Then, 1,000 tonnes of de­bris were caught by spe­cially- de­signed pro­tec­tion nets.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Derek Mackay said on De­cem­ber 5: ‘This re­cent land­slide has shown us that our in­vest­ment has helped to keep the A83 open, as the net­ting at the Rest and Be Thank­ful has been suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 tonnes of de­bris reach­ing the road, en­sur­ing con­ti­nu­ity of ac­cess to the re­gion.’

How­ever, Mrs Else said: ‘Does some­one have to die be­fore some­thing is done at this spot? It’s not safe.’

A spokes­woman for Bear Scot­land, which main­tains the trunk road, said: ‘Ap­prox­i­mately 200 to 300 tonnes of ma­te­rial washed down the hill­side, with two cars caught in the wash- out.’

The road was later re­opened af­ter de­bris was re­moved from the car­riage­way and the de­bris pro­tec­tion fences re­paired and re­in­stated by geotech­ni­cal teams.

How­ever, the A83 was again closed overnight on Mon­day fol­low­ing fears a 150 tonne boul­der sit­ting 175m above the road was at risk of mov­ing. The Old Mil­i­tary Road was also closed, with mo­torists di­verted via Dal­mally.

The Old Mil­i­tary Road was re­opened on Tues­day morn­ing around 9am as a lo­cal di­ver­sion route for road users of the A83 and the ground con­di­tions sup­port­ing the boul­der have been con­tin­u­ally mon­i­tored by geotech­ni­cal spe­cial­ists.

Ef­forts by BEAR Scot­land to make safe the boul­der have been on­go­ing since first light on Tues­day. A he­li­copter bring­ing ma­te­ri­als to the site was de­layed in reach­ing the area due to bad weather, but the spe­cial­ist teams have now be­gun to in­stall the an­chors re­quired to re­move the boul­der safely.

BEAR Scot­land said good progress had been made and prepara­tory works were ex­pected to be com­pleted on Tues­day ready for safety work to take place on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The two cars hit by the land­slide at the Rest and Be Thank­ful.

Jane Else, who suf­fered a frac­tured ster­num as a re­sult of her car be­ing hit by the

land­slide.

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